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Young workers in the staffing industry are twice as likely to suffer a workplace injury compared with the rest of the labour market, reports svt.se. In 2011, the average rate of injury across all industries was six per 1,000 employees, the staffing industry reported twice as many.
According to the article, temporary agency workers are often given the most monotonous or physically demanding jobs that companies do want to give to their own employees. The temporary agency workers are not always provided with appropriate levels of training and the risk of injury is thus increased.
The short-term nature of the work placements has meant that training and health & safety briefings in some instances have been shortened and in some instances overlooked. One worker reported that despite not having an appropriate driving licence he was assigned by the client company to drive a lorry. The worker advised that health & safety were almost never discussed and it was difficult to broach the subject for fear that your services would no longer be required.
Mikael Sjӧberg, Director General of the Swedish Work Environment Authority, has emphasised the importance of providing a proper induction when working in the staffing industry. “The agency workers are new to the workplace at every new jobs and have no knowledge of how the work is done safely.”
The Director of the Association of Staffing Agencies, Henrik Bäckstrom, disagrees with the report claiming that it is not based on facts. “The industry consists not only of 60,000 full-time employees, but has twice as many people working in the industry every year, especially young people and students. We are in line with the average in terms of injuries.”
Mr Bäckstrom advised that the staffing industry has been working for several years to ensure that the staffing agency and the client company share responsibility for the work environment and the safety of temporary agency workers. “We believe that shared responsibility under most circumstances is a dual responsibility. The [report] is based more on feeling than on hard fact,” he concluded.